TWB pre Hippy Band

October 28th, 2008 by Jim E. in Remembering When...

I first met Tom at the age of 5 years old. His mom & dad bought a house from my mom & dad. That was 1305 Haslett Rd. in Haslett Michigan. I also met his sisters Heidi and Vivian, and his brother Fred (aka Fritz, but his real name is Fred). It was a case of “Little Jimmy, this is little Tommy, you boys go out back and play together.”

So, we knew each other all through our adolescence, sometimes we hung out together, got in trouble together, etc. etc. We did stuff like paint, make model airplanes, go fishing, cruise around Haslett, and smoked a lot of pot.

Our first band was formed in about 1972. It started out with Tom on guitar and me on keyboards, and Tom named the band “Polychrome”. All our songs were psychedelic originals. Tom kept a folder with all our stuff in it that had a cool piece of artwork on the cover that Tom would add to from time to time. We eventually added another guitar player, a drummer, and a bass player. We did a lot of garage practice with lots of partying friends in attendance, but we never really played a “real” gig.

The other band members kind of drifted away, but Tom and I spent many a night recording songs and ditties that we had come up with on an old reel to reel that Tom came up with.

Tom lived in some pretty unusual places during those years and wasn’t probably what you’d really call financially successful (I don’t think he really cared about money), but anyway in the spring of 1976 he woke up one day and announced he was going to join the Army.

He never did tell me why, I don’t think he knew why, but he enlisted. The night before he left Tom bought a quarter pound of pot and we tried to smoke the whole thing – me, Tom, and our guitar buddy Craig. We smoked and smoked. And smoked some more, but we still had about and ounce left about the time the sun came up.

That morning he was leaving from the bus station in East Lansing, and as we were sitting in the shade waiting for the bus Tom dumped the entire leftover ounce of weed into his mouth, chewed and swallowed. Craig and I laughed our asses off.

We had originally agreed we would play a game of chess by mail, one move per letter, but that didn’t last more than three or 4 moves each. We did stay in touch during his entire enlistment though. He spent most of his tour playing guitar in the US Army’s “Bicentennial Tour”, and he was also an aide to a Major. I remember he wrote one time about how cool it was when he performed “Sky Pilot” to a group that included Vietnam era Generals.

He eventually mustered out and moved into a house on Gunson Street in East Lansing. That was (I’m pretty sure) the summer of 1978. While in the Army he had accumulated lots of electronic goodies, including the loudest stereo I had ever heard in my life, a 4 track reel to reel, and a guitar, amp and other stuff

The best thing he brought back though was a one-pound brick of black hash. He gutted a wah wah pedal, wrapped the hash in tinfoil, and glued wires to it so if it got x-rayed it would just look like the guts of a wah wah pedal.

One night he recorded a thunderstorm, then a few nights later (on a clear and cloud free night) he pointed his stereo speakers out the windows and blasted the previous nights thunderstorm to the neighborhood at about 120 decibels.

We did some cool music on Tom’s 4 track over the next year. Then in the summer of 1979 I moved to Colorado and didn’t see Tom again until December of 1980 when he took me to Ricks Underground to see the Hippy Band perform, but that’s a story for another time.